How to Pick a Paralegal Studies Program near Wrens Georgia
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Wrens GA and start your journey that will lead to a satisfying profession in legal services. However, it’s essential that you locate the right school so that you will receive the extensive training that you require to achieve success. As you most likely know, the legal field is among the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and increasingly more academic alternatives are becoming available, both on campus and online. But with so many alternatives to choose from, where does one start? A number of potential students begin by searching for schools within traveling distance of their Wrens residences. Of those alternatives, they search for the program with the most affordable tuition. Although location and cost are prime considerations when choosing a school, they are not the only factors you should consider. Things such as accreditation and the reputation of the school ought to be taken into consideration too. Later in this post we will review a list of questions that you ought to ask prospective paralegal schools so that you can examine and compare every one before making your choice. But first, let’s take a look at exactly what a paralegal does and the educational choices that are offered to earn a paralegal certificate or degree.
Georgia Legal Assistants and Paralegals
Legal assistants and paralegals for the most part both hold comparable job positions and functions, just with different titles. However, legal secretaries are not the same as either of those two positions and are part of a different job category. Both legal assistants and paralegals help Wrens GA lawyers with a diverse array of job functions, including maintaining client files, legal research, communicating with clients, and drafting legal documents. Their particular job duties are relevant to the type of legal firm where they work. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law firm could help with trial logistics or delivering files to court. In private practices, a paralegal’s work is typically billed hourly as are the attorney’s. And just like attorneys, they must conduct themselves with a high level of professionalism and adhere to a strict standard of professional ethics. As stated, their duties can be varied in support of the firms where they are employed, but some of their day-to-day tasks may involve:
- Researching and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on related cases and laws
- Drafting correspondence and legal documents
- Filing legal papers with opposing counsel or the court
- Helping lawyers get ready for trial and stay organized with their cases
- Organizing and preserving legal files, documents and additional records
With all of their responsibilities, the role of a paralegal can be involved and very challenging. However, what they are not legally allowed to do is provide legal counsel and advice or represent a client in a legal action. But paralegals are not restricted to administrative or clerical duties more applicable to the job of a legal secretary. Legal assistants really are the right hand support systems for Wrens GA lawyers. And because they do so much of the legal ground work and preparation, lawyers are able to manage a much larger number of cases or clients than they could alone.
Paralegal Training and Certification
As we discussed earlier, paralegals are essentially the same as legal assistants, with paralegals perhaps having more professional sounding job titles. In any case, for either position the educational requirements and opportunities will be the same. The quickest means to start your career as a paralegal is by earning a certificate, which may involve just 6 months to accomplish. Most entry level positions do call for an Associate’s Degree, which furnish a more expansive education and can be acquired at numerous Wrens GA area community colleges in 2 years. And if you are interested in an even more extensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are offered also. After you have obtained either a certificate or degree, you may want to proceed and get a certification. Even though it is not a mandatory requirement in Georgia to work as a paralegal, certification may not only help maximize your job opportunities, but help establish you as a professional also. Some of the highly regarded certifying agencies in the field are:
- National Federation of Paralegal Associations
- American Alliance of Paralegals
- National Association of Legal Assistants
- National Association for Legal Professionals
By graduating with a degree or certificate from an accredited Wrens GA area program (we will address the benefits of accreditation later) and obtaining a certification, you will have taken two essential initial steps that will help guarantee your success as either a legal assistant or a paralegal.
Paralegal and Legal Assistant Online Schools
Online paralegal or legal assistant schools have become more common in Wrens GA and may be a good option for students looking for convenient access to classes as well as accommodating scheduling. Online schools can be especially appealing to individuals who continue to work while earning a certificate or degree. As an added benefit, online classes can in some cases be less costly than more traditional options. Even secondary expenses for such things as commuting or study materials can be reduced or eliminated. One caution, not all internet programs are accredited, which we will address in more detail later. But at a minimum accreditation helps ensure that the training you receive is of the highest quality. So check to make sure that the program and school you are reviewing are accredited by a reputable organization, for instance the American Bar Association. But if you are dedicated enough to attend classes in a less structured and formal environment, then earning your certificate or degree online may be the right option for you.
Questions to Ask Paralegal Programs
Since you now you have a better understanding regarding what paralegals do and what academic options are available, you can start the process of assessing schools. But considering that there are so many programs available at Wrens GA area community and junior colleges, in addition to trade and vocational schools, you must find out what questions to ask in order to evaluate each one. This is particularly true if you include all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs as well. If you are like many potential students, you will begin by looking for schools within driving distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already covered, there are other important issues to think about also, including the reputation and accreditation of the schools. So let’s take a look at some of the questions you need to be asking the schools you are investigating so that you can thoroughly vet each one and make your final choice.
Is the Paralegal School Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you choose need to be accredited by a highly regarded organization such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online program, it might also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets online or distance education. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the training you will get will be of the highest quality, but it will show future employers that you are a qualified professional as well. Numerous Wrens GA law firms will only hire entry level paralegals that have graduated from an accredited school. Finally, financial assistance and student loans are usually available only for accredited schools.
What’s the Program’s Reputation? Learn what the reputations and rankings are for the Georgia paralegal schools you are considering. This is of specific importance if you are new to the profession with no previous work history, since Wrens GA employers will need to make a decision based on the caliber of your training exclusively. Confirming that the school you select is accredited is a good first step. Checking school rating reports, such as those furnished by U.S. News and World Report, can help verify school rankings and quality of education as well. You can also call a few law practices that you may have an interest in working for after graduating and ask which schools they suggest. Bear in mind that even if a school is not the most highly ranked, its paralegal program may still have an excellent reputation.
Does the Program Offer Internships? Internship programs provide students a chance to experience working in a law firm or other Wrens GA legal enterprise while remaining in school. They can also present a pathway for students to start developing contacts within the legal field. Find out if the paralegal programs you are considering offer internship programs, especially in areas of the law that you are most interested in entering upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance available? You will most likely wish to secure employment quickly after graduation, but getting that first job in a new profession can be difficult without support. Ask if the paralegal schools you are assessing have job assistance programs and what their placement rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are an excellent sign that the schools have large networks and great relationships with Wrens GA legal services employers. It also substantiates that their graduates are highly regarded and in demand.
Where is the Campus Located? Because laws differ from state to state, it might be advantageous to select a legal assistant school located in Georgia or the state where you plan to practice after graduating. In addition, it will be valuable to develop relationships in the neighboring Wrens GA legal community, perhaps by means of an internship program. This is all the more justification to obtain your education in the area where you choose to work. Also, if you attend classes at a community college, many require an increased tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you may wish to initially consider those schools that are within your local area.
How Much is the Total Expense? Paralegal programs can differ in price depending on the credential received and the length of training furnished. Having said that, tuition will not be the only expense for your training. Don’t forget to include the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial aid might be obtainable to help reduce some of the cost, so be sure to consult with the school’s financial aid office to see what is offered in Wrens GA. Of course if you choose to attend an online school, some of these supplementary costs, such as for commuting, may be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Classes Fit your Schedule? Many legal students continue working while receiving their training and require flexibility in class scheduling. If you can only attend night or weekend classes near Wrens GA, verify classes are available at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, make sure that the program you select provides that option. Finally, inquire what the process is for making up classes missed due to work, illness or family obligations.
Select the Ideal Paralegal College near Wrens GA
Enrolling in the right paralegal degree program is a crucial first step to guarantee your success in the rewarding field of law. As we have addressed in this article, you have the option of attending classes at school or you can participate online in the comfort and privacy of your Wrens home. Paralegal training programs are offered in many lengths and formats. Various types of public and private institutions offer paralegal training, including community and junior colleges, four-year colleges and universities, in addition to vocational and trade schools. Your choice of a paralegal program will have a pronounced impact on your opportunities for success in your new profession. Since there is a broad range in the quality of schools, choose carefully. Give yourself the best possible chance to be successful in this exciting profession. But irrespective of how you choose to obtain your education and earn your certificate or degree, by asking the questions that we have presented you will be able to assess each program and make your final decision. And with the ideal education you can realize your career objective to become a successful paralegal in Wrens GA.
More About Wrens Georgia
As of the census of 2000, there were 2,314 people, 903 households, and 632 families residing in the city. The population density was 760.1 people per square mile (293.9/km²). There were 1,030 housing units at an average density of 338.3 per square mile (130.8/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 65.17% African American, 33.19% White, 0.09% Native American, 0.17% Asian, 0.26% from other races, and 1.12% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino people of any race were 0.78% of the population.
There were 903 households out of which 31.2% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 34.4% were married couples living together, 31.6% had a female householder with no husband present, and 30.0% were non-families. 27.4% of all households were made up of individuals and 12.0% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.56 and the average family size was 3.10.
In the city, the population was spread out with 29.9% under the age of 18, 9.6% from 18 to 24, 23.8% from 25 to 44, 23.7% from 45 to 64, and 13.0% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 34 years. For every 100 females there were 77.9 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 72.9 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $23,632, and the median income for a family was $26,776. Males had a median income of $30,208 versus $20,625 for females. The per capita income for the city was $12,425. About 23.8% of families and 27.4% of the population were below the poverty line, including 40.7% of those under age 18 and 22.1% of those age 65 or over.
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